{ July 22nd, 2017 }
Santa Cruz, CA

When Nicole first contacted me, we were only a couple weeks away from the wedding.  She told me that her father-in-law, Ian’s father Johnny, had passed away a week before, and that now they were trying to quickly get back into wedding planning mode and get everything locked in.  I am generally not good at handling loss, and without ever having met these folks, I was extremely saddened and distraught by the passing of Johnny just weeks before their wedding day.  Luckily, I was available and jumped at the opportunity to help them tick one thing off their planning checklist, and make sure they capture and eternalize this time in their lives.

As I drove through the Santa Cruz hills I was anticipating a heavy, emotionally charged wedding and hoped I could capture that story without missing a beat.

Arriving at the townhouse to meet Nicole, I heard laughter, and champagne being uncorked.   I tried to decipher all the relationships between all the people running around, they all seemed like family to me.  We were clearly in UC Santa Cruz territory, and everyone there seemed to speak multiple languages, including a small child who was smarter than me.

A beautiful vegetable farm surrounded the Hay Barn, which was buzzing with vendor activity.  Bright red tractors, decorated hay stacks and old school irrigation rigs served as accents in a lush agricultural setting.  The bouquet had artichokes and other delicious looking produce, hidden among fall color blooms.  

I have to admit, I had to try extremely hard to remain professional and hold back tears every time they mentioned Johnny in the ceremony.  The words spoken into the microphone by everyone at the top of that hill could not have been more poignant, artful, and cathartic.  

All in one ceremony, we saw them jump the broom, break the glass, and tie the knot.  

And when the sun went down, and the DJ started bumping vintage soul, hip hop, and R&B, there were no shy people in the back, everyone was on the dance floor, stopping only for an occasional gin cocktail or an It’s-It ice cream sandwich from the cooler.  

Planning: An Everlasting Moment
Venue: The Cowell Ranch Hay Barn Project
Photos: Rob Eves